Pharmacist shows who wins, loses with health care bill - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Pharmacist shows who wins, loses with health care bill


By Sara Story - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Two groups that are expected to benefit from the health care bill are certain drug makers and some senior citizens, but an East Texas pharmacist says it may hurt people more than it helps them.

As Gladys Moore focuses on a game of "Mah-jong", she says her mind was occupied by her sister's failing health less than a year ago. "My sister took a lot of expensive medicines," said Moore. "One was $180 a month, another one was $176, and she takes 13 different medicines."

The medicine was initially covered by Medicare, but her sister quickly found herself in the coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole". Medicare covers up to $2,830 a year. "The government stops paying after that until they get up to the $6,000, catastrophic," said Woody Weaver, the owner of Woody Weaver pharmacy in Tyler.  He says many of his clients are in this situation and take the financially easy way out. "Many of them quit taking their meds," said Weaver.  

The healthcare bill promises to gradually close this gap. Seniors who hit the gap this year will get a $250 rebate. In 2011, they will get a 50% discount on brand name drugs, and by 2020, the gap will be completely gone.

"We don't need a gap...My sister would probably still be home, and not in a nursing home now," said Moore. She remains hopefully, but  Weaver is not convinced this will work. He said, "I think it will help a certain segment of the population, but, like I said, if they don't have that 25% or 50%, they still don't have their med's."

The bill proposes another change to prescription drugs. Expensive biological drug makers won years of exclusive sales before facing competition from generic rivals. Pharmacists say this will have a huge impact on consumers. "Drug companies are going to make more money," said Weaver. "People are going to suffer."

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